THE Manila, Phillipines-based Association for Progressive Communication (APC) has issued a statement critical of technological-related forms of violence against women.
The statement marking the 57th session of Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations in New York cited the UN Secretary General's report on violence against women which noted that "more inquiry is also needed about the use of technology, such as computers and cell phones, in developing and expanding forms of violence".
The statement to the CSW, which is being attended by Women's Minister Doctor Jiko Luveni, said there was "very little corresponding recognition of technology-related forms of violence against women by states, intergovernmental institutions, and other actors responsible for ending violence against women"
The statement appears timely, given the recent publicity about a Fiji woman who's nude pictures were allegedly posted on the Internet by an yet unknown person.
"Since 2006, cyber-stalking, online harassment, image manipulation and privacy violations have become part of intimate-partner violence and sexual harassment, compromising women and girls' safety online and offline in many countries," the APC statement said.
"Laws and policies on violence against women in many countries pre-date the emergence of these violations and they are often excluded in systematic data gathering, monitoring and comprehensive evidence-based policy-making and state accountabilities.
"This has a knock-on effect on limitations in building capacity of policy makers, enforcement agencies and service providers to respond to these cases.
"Women and girls who experience violence mediated by information and communication technology (ICT) need recourse to protection and redress. Without legal or policy guidelines, however, justice agencies and law enforcers have limited capacity to deal with these."
The statement said violence against women (VAW) that was mediated by technology was increasingly becoming part of women's experience of violence and their online interactions.
"In the same way we face risks offline, in the streets and in our homes, women and girls can face specific dangers and risks on the internet such as online harassment, cyber-stalking, privacy invasions with the threat of blackmail, viral 'rape videos' and for young women in particular, the distribution of 'sex videos' that force survivors to relive the trauma of sexual assault every time it is reposted online, via mobile phone or distributed in other ways.
"These forms of violence may also be mediated through technology but they cause psychological and emotional harm, reinforce prejudice, damage reputation, cause economic loss and pose barriers to participation in public life. Reporting and responses of these violations are generally limited and the harm and abuse are poorly understood."